Travel Weekly's Caribbean E-Letter: Aug. 28, 2003

BAHAMASAIR, the Bahamian flag carrier, temporarily will suspend service from Nassau to three Andros Island airports as of Sept. 6, while it looks to subcontract the inter-island routes to a partner airline. The carrier removed the destinations Andros Town, San Andros and South Andros, also known as Congo Town, from its GDS and online Web booking site [www.bahamasair.com] but expects to restore booking capabilities for the Andros Island airports within the next 45 days, said Tyrone Sawyer, director of international sales. Meanwhile, competing airline Western Air continues to serve the three affected airports, as well as a fourth Andros destination, Mangrove Cay, from Nassau.

BUILDING ON THE SUCCESS of last year's program, Puerto Rico again designated September as Travel Agent Month -- and added lots more goodies to sweeten the pot. "Our travel agent partners play a vital role in making Puerto Rico a leading vacation destination," said Jose Suarez, executive director of Puerto Rico Tourism Co. "We want to keep bringing them to Puerto Rico to experience our activities and culture." Incentives this year include discounted rates at lots more hotels and paradores (family-owned inns); special Hertz rental car rates; reduced fares on Spirit Airlines, American and United; and a chance to win a three-night stay at the Ritz-Carlton San Juan Spa & Casino. Details can be found at www.gotopuertorico.com.

LODGEPODGE
• Luxury resort chain Raffles International will enter the Caribbean market in 2004 when it begins operating a refurbished Rosewood property on Canouan Island in the Grenadines. The former Carenage Bay Beach and Golf Resort is set to reopen next summer as the Raffles Resort Canouan Island, The Grenadines.
• Viva Resorts launched its Viva Junior's Club, aimed at the often-neglected and sometimes-difficult-to-please market: teenagers. Designed specifically for the needs of travelers between the ages of 13 and 18, the complimentary program will be in effect at Viva's all-inclusive, child-friendly properties in the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic and Mexico. Coming in November is Viva Tangerine in Cabarete, Dominican Republic, which will be the resort chain's seventh property. Viva recently entered into an alliance with Wyndham International to rebrand their resorts as Viva Wyndham Resorts. Effective Dec. 1, the contact number for Viva will be (800) WYNDHAM; the Web site will be located at www.wyndham.com. In the meantime, find information at www.vivaresorts.com.

THE VIRGIN ISLANDS PORT AUTHORITY voted to roll back, effective Oct. 1, its 25% increase in passenger and landing fees charged to the airlines serving St. Thomas and St. Croix. The board also voted to revamp the fee structure charged to passenger ferries so that St. Thomas-St. Croix ferries now will pay the same Port Authority fees that the St. Thomas-St. John ferries do. The original landing fee increase, which took effect last Feb. 1 to plug a $5 million budget shortfall, was criticized by the airlines and many segments of the business and tourism sectors. Tourism officials hope that the fee rollback could lead to an increase in air traffic and passenger volume for the upcoming winter season.

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